Over the last few years, the digital advertising world has become incredibly complex, and – perhaps us coincidentally – fairly rife with fraudulent buys, too.

So leave it to a simple little text file to clean up the whole sorry mess.

That’s what the IAB Tech Lab is aiming to do with its Ads.txt initiative – and many ad-tech execs think it could, indeed, help.

With Ads.txt, publishers would place a small file on their sites describing which buying platforms are allowed to access their inventory.

“We are encouraging publishers to really adopt it as quickly as possible,” says Art Muldoon, CEO of AmNet Group US, created out of Dentsu Aegis’ acquisition of Muldoon’s Accordant Media. “We will (use it to) only buy inventory from the publishers authorised sellers.

“Today, in this world of ad fraud, too many publishers inventories have been spoofed. So Ads.txt is a great initiative, publisher-led but demand-supported, to help clean up that path.”

The scale of publisher spoofing is becoming clearer. In September, a Financial Times investigation revealed “display ads against inventory masquerading as FT.com on 10 separate ad exchanges and video ads on 15 exchanges, even though the FT doesn’t even sell video ads programmatically, with 300 accounts selling inventory purporting to be the FT’s”, Digiday reported. The fakes were for inventory worth $1.3mn a month.

“We need more accountability, more transparency, so that our intended investment reaches the recipient in that way,” Muldoon says.

“Unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no one silver bullet to clean up the ad ecosystem, but there are multiple fronts that we are supporting to do so.”

This interview took place at the AppNexus customer summit in New York.

AppNexus Trading Summit 2017